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Rates rumble

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On Monday 11th August, around 200 Chittering residents came together at the Muchea Town Hall to express their frustrations with the recent rate rise.
Specifically they were concerned about the additional charge for waste collection that many will now incur. Many residents were also seeking to better
understand the pending change of rating model from UV (Unimproved Value) to GRV (Gross Rental Value) and its impact now and in the future.
It was encouraging to see so many people take an interest in the management of their shire. As one resident pointed out this level of interest in local
government has largely been lost in recent years.

According to the electoral commission the “turnout rate for voting” has in fact been steadily dropping from 58.44% in 2003 to 31.93% in 2013.

Meeting convenor and former Shire of Chittering councillor of nine years, Steve Vallance, chaired the meeting with the assistance of friend and past fellow councilor Jan Stagbouer. The objective of the meeting was to share budget and background information, allowing the community to ask questions. The meeting was also designed to capture signatures to call on the council to hold a special electors meeting.

Aside from the normal public forum heckling the meeting provided what seemed to be a positive and hopefully constructive exercise. There is clearly some
work to be done in breaking down the “us and them” mentality and hopefully the level of interest will continue and a better outcome for all.

A number of Shire councilors were present as well as the CEO and EMCS. They remained respectfully quiet and listened to the issues and didn’t attempt to address any misunderstandings.

Steve Vallance announced the creation of a dedicated facebook page “Chittering Knowledge” to manage ratepayer discussions. Already this facebook group has
over 200 members and is sharing valuable information for residents to view, read, and become better informed, or to just vent their frustrations in a forum.

Details of the Special Electors Meeting 15th September at the Muchea Hall are already up on Chittering Knowledge facebook page. As posted by one resident,
“The meeting will be chaired by the Shire President. The matters to be discussed are: 1. Size of rate increases into the future. 2. Encouragement and support of volunteers in the shire. 3. Transparency, accuracy and accountability of shire communications.

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